Book Review: Lateral Cooking, by Niki Segnit

A most unusual kitchen reference book that provides a baseline for kitchen experimentation; a methodical way to be more intuitive in creating a range of foods rather than having to search out and follow recipes, step by step.

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A most unusual kitchen reference book. I expected recipes and glossy pictures, but instead I have received a most astounding baseline for kitchen experimentation. It provides a methodical way to transition from one style of product to the next in a way that allows the cook to be more intuitive in creating a range of foods rather than having to search out and follow recipes, step by step.

In my research into Niki Segnit and this book, I am assuming it is a partner to her earlier book, The Flavour Thesaurus and, as a combination, even a beginner cook would be able to create their own foods and flavours to meet their individual needs or tastes. The advertising that comes with the book says, “The Flavour Thesaurus taught you what to cook, now Lateral Cooking will show you how.”

Segnit has arranged the recipes contained in this book into a continuum. As you master one thing, say flatbreads, she then shows how a simple tweak can turn it into a soda bread or scone. It is a book of open-ended recipes. Having said that, it is not a book you buy for recipes, although there are plenty of them. Rather, Lateral Cooking gives the reader an insight into how cooking genres and how it actually works.

The presentation is daunting as the book 608 pages, divided into twelve sections, with much small print and is illustrated with burnt orange graphics.

Lateral Cooking is not only informative and challenging (in a way to try and develop your own recipes) but also very enjoyable to read. Sangit has a sense of humour and shows her level of expertise in her writing in a way that has you wondering whether you want to head to the kitchen or read the book first.

This book has page after page of hands of ideas which are then followed by the inspiration to go out on your own. One dish leading to another, the continuum sections include Bread – Cornbread, Polenta and Gnocchi – Batter – Roux – Stock, Soup, Stew – Pastry – Nuts – Cakes and Biscuits – Chocolate – Sugar – Custard – Sauce.

This is a book you will want to have in your kitchen so that you have solid baseline recipes from which to create your own recipes. A brilliant gift for a family member or friend who lacks confidence in the kitchen.

Reviewed by Leanne Caune

Rating out of 10:  9

Distributed by: Bloomsbury Australia
Released: October 2018
RRP: $45.00 hardcover

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